Category Archives: Importance of Tourism

New York’s World-Class Winter Sports Facilities at Lake Placid Shine During FISU World University Games

Skiers can continue to ski at Whiteface in Lake Placid during the FISU World University Games, going on through January 22. The winter sport destination, which hosted two Olympics, along with the state’s other Olympic Regional Development Authority venues, have benefited from $552 million in investment over the last six years to prime the venues for such world-class events and sustain a $16.1 billion winter tourism industry © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

This week, New York State’s Olympic facilities at Lake Placid are hosting the FISU World University Games, welcoming 1,443 collegiate-athletes plus coaches and fans from more than 540 universities and 46 nations.

The Lake Placid 2023 FISU Games, going on until January 22, feature competition in 12 winter sports and 85 events including skiing and snowboarding, curling, figure skating, ice hockey and speed skating in venues throughout the Adirondack North Country in Lake Placid as well as Wilmington, Saranac Lake, Potsdam, Canton and North Creek. (The competition schedule and tickets to the events are available here.)

The prestigious event is an opportunity to showcase for the world the state’s world-class Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) facilities, enhanced with a six-year, $552 million investment to help maintain the region’s standing as a world-class winter sport destination fitting for an Olympic-sized event, for the lasting benefit of New York’s $16.1 billion winter tourism industry.

“We made transformative investments to renovate the Lake Placid Olympic Center, revitalized our airports, improved our roads and bridges and grew our regional sports infrastructure to ensure that Lake Placid is well-positioned to host the games,” Governor Kathy Hochul said when she opened the games.

“The event will once again put Lake Placid on a global stage, drawing thousands of visitors to the region and inviting millions more to watch the games via ESPN in the United States, TSN in Canada and FISU TV. For many, it will be the first time they’ll see the bold and picturesque Adirondack Mountains, vibrant downtown Lake Placid and our world-class Olympic Regional Development Authority ski areas and venues. And these games offer a chance to showcase the New York’s thriving winter tourism industry.”

Special events like the games that spark additional travel generate even more spending in our restaurants, hotels and businesses, supporting jobs in a hospitality industry still rebuilding in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. State-supported ORDA venues are open year-round for events, athlete training and recreation. Once the World University Games have finished, these same facilities will host this winter season the World Cup in Ski Jumping, NCAA Alpine and Cross-Country Skiing Championships, Synchronized Figure Skating World Championships. The Bobsled Skeleton World Championships will follow in February 2025, and IBU Biathlon Cups are planned in February and March 2026.

Last winter, New York welcomed 68.5 million visitors, generating more than $16.1 billion in direct visitor spending. ORDA’s economic impact for New York State was last measured at $273.6 million for 2019-2020, a 75 percent increase over the previous 2016-2017 measurement of $156 million.

New York State has made significant investments in the North Country totaling $552 million over the last six years in preparation for the World University Games, and ongoing support for the competitive sports infrastructure and regional tourism. Investments have helped to renovate facilities owned and operated by the Olympic Regional Development Authority, such as the $104 million renovation of the Lake Placid Olympic Center, and other host facilities like the nearly $7 million overhaul of the Saranac Lake Civic Center.

The improvements are a legacy that will be enjoyed by New York’s skiers and winter visitors for years to come.

ORDA has been steadily improving the snowmaking infrastructure throughout its ski areas, particularly over the last ten years. These upgrades have increased the efficiency of snowmaking operations, allowing for the mountains to open terrain faster, and earlier in the season when temperatures allow. The modernized systems, which utilize energy more effectively, also are a key part of ORDA’s award-winning sustainability initiatives: solar energy at the alpine venues, state of the art snowmaking equipment that significantly reduces water and energy use, EV charging stations, e-zambonis and hybrid grooming equipment, LED lighting.

Indeed, in conjunction with the FISU Games, a World Conference was convened to share information about the initiatives and actions they have implemented to mitigate climate change and save winter from global warming. From venue design and infrastructure to sustainably sourced items to the LED torch and flameless cauldron, the Host Partners and New York State set a new standard for a commitment to the environment for future events. 

Improved Winter Facilities at ORDA Venues 

This winter, New Yorkers and the rest of the world will enjoy upgrades, renovations, snowmaking improvements to Olympic Regional Development Authority-operated ski venues: Gore Mountain in North Creek, Belleayre Mount in Highmount, Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington, and Mt. Van Hoevenberg in Lake Placid.

Gore Mountain: New this season is Backwoods, an intermediate trail that begins at the top of Burnt Ridge Mountain and parallels the Barkeater Glades. The trail ends uphill of Roaring Brook Bridge and provides faster and more direct access to Little Gore Mountain and the North Creek Ski Bowl. Over 230 new high-efficiency snow guns have been installed on Backwoods, Showcase, Uncas, Paradox, Peaceful Valley, and Chatiemac. For the FISU Games, crews developed the sanctioned slopestyle and boardercross courses, enhanced snowmaking and widened the terrain. The FIS-certified race trail, Echo, was also bolstered with increased snowmaking capacity to accommodate the venue’s busy calendar of alpine events and recreational skiers and riders throughout the season.  (goremountain.comGore Mountain Snow Report)

Whiteface Mountain: New this season is the Ausable Run, a beginner trail off the Warhorse Quad lift, and Yellow Dot, an expert trail connecting the top of Victoria to Lower Skyward. Whiteface installed 35,000 feet of new pipe, 160 high-efficiency snow guns, and 245 new hydrants. Additionally, two new Pisten Bully groomers join the fleet. After hosting Lake Placid 2023 FISU Winter World University Games alpine competitions,  Whiteface will host the NCAA Regionals and National Championship in Alpine, the Empire State Games and other regional races. The mountain will be open to the public during the event dates for skiing and riding, and spectators can view the events in the newly designed Andrew Weibrecht Finish Area. Additional improvements to the race area include enhancements to the Freeway lift, timing and radio systems, and power to the finish building. (whiteface.comWhiteface Mountain Snow Report)

Belleayre Mountain installed 60,000 additional feet of new pipe, a new snowmaking pump, and added 300 high-efficiency snow guns. A new retail space relocated upstairs on the main floor of Discovery Lodge provides guests with a renewed shopping experience with a view. (belleayre.com,  Belleayre Mountain Snow Report.

Mt. Van Hoevenberg: The Mt Van Hoevenberg transformation was completed in 2020, providing a world-class facility and 5 km of World Championship-rated cross-country skiing trails for training and racing. The trails carry tremendous snowmaking power, from the number of high-efficiency snow guns and hydrants to its reservoir capacity, providing state-of-the-art snowmaking for a Nordic Center. Thanks to the state’s investment ORDA will host multiple World Cup competitions. Recently, Mt Van Hoevenberg was awarded the International Biathlon Union (IBU) Cup for 2026. This is in addition to the International Bobsled and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) World Cup in Bobsled and Skeleton taking place at the Mt Van Hoevenberg Sliding Center December 16-18, and at its sister venue, the Olympic Jumping Complex, the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup will return this winter, February 10-12, 2023. For non-competitive athletes, Mt. Van hoevenberg offers some of the most exciting opportunities to feel like an Olympian: a state-of-the-art combined skeleton and bobsled track and North America’s longest mountain coaster, The Cliffside Coaster. 50km of cross country skiing trails, you can even try your hand at the biathalon. There is also a new Mountain Pass Lodge. (mtvanhoevenberg.com, Mt Van Hoevenberg Snow Report)

The SKI3 Season Pass provides the greatest flexibility and savings for skiing and riding at Whiteface, Belleayre, and Gore. Single day tickets are also at the lowest prices of the season and should be purchased in advance to secure desired days this winter.

“Winter is always an amazing time to travel in New York, which has more ski areas than any other state in the nation,” said Empire State Development Vice President and Executive Director of Tourism Ross D. Levi. “ORDA’s world class ski facilities, along with scores of private ski areas across the state, make for an unparalleled ski experience. When paired with activities from snowmobiling and winter carnivals to ice wine tastings and spa getaways to the FISU World University Games, visitors can come be a part of the ultimate winter wonderland and find what they love in New York State.”

Information on skiing and other winter activities statewide is available at iloveny.com/winter and iskiny.com. Updated downhill and cross-country ski reports for all of New York State courtesy of Ski NY and Cross-Country Ski Areas of NY are available on 1-800-ILOVENY and linked on iloveny.com.

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From Forest Bathing to ‘Me Time’, Skyscanner Reveals Travel Forecast for 2023

According to Skyscanner survey of Americans, more travelers intend to travel in 2023 but look for value and experiences and will seek out travel companies like Alpaca Expeditions, which offers Inca Trail treks to Machu Picchu, Peru, a World Heritage Site, based on offering responsible, sustainable travel © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

  • Price led decision making will drive change in 2023: consumers will still travel but how they spend will differ  
  • Give us a break; 41% of consumers are planning more vacations in 2023 as 2022, and 46% are planning to do the same number of trips 
  • Savvy consumers are shopping around and pocket-friendly destinations are leading the way – Portugal rises in popularity and drops in price  
  • Swap sunbathing for forest bathing; getting amongst nature will be a priority – both for mental health and to avoid price peaks around beach destinations
  • ‘Me time’ set to make the mainstream next year; over half (53%) of travelers are considering a solo trip next year, with divorcees and singles over-indexing  
  • Sneaky searches: 64% will use a mobile device to plan or book their next trip, predominantly whilst at work 
  • Looking further into the future, Skyscanner predicts supersonic travel will redefine short-haul travel and one in three Americans (34%) expect to vacation among the stars in their lifetime

New research from global travel site Skyscanner reveals that US vacationers are expecting another strong year of travel despite economic uncertainty, but price-led decision making will drive change in 2023. With 86% of US travelers planning to spend the same if not more on travel abroad next year, how they are going to spend will differ. The extent of these changes is revealed in Skyscanner’s detailed Travel Trends 2023 report. 

Key trends to come out of the report show that US travelers don’t want the vacation to stop on a Monday morning, but to work where they could vacation and work too. US travelers are also craving experiences grounded in nature and wellbeing. A way to reset and feel normal again. Expect friends to ditch each other in favor of solo adventures, indulge in sneaky smartphone travel searches in the workplace and vacationers navigating the cost-of-living crisis to ensure their time away remains a priority.  

For travel in 2023, there’s a lot we want to do differently and some bold expectations on what future travel will entail. Future gazing sees one in three people expecting vacations amongst the stars to be a mainstream reality in their lifetime, while closer to home, advances in supersonic technology could re-define short-haul travel. 

“It is clear that we’re hungrier than ever to discover something new – even though we might have less in our pockets next year,” Naomi Hahn, Skyscanner’s VP of strategy, comments. “The aftermath of a pandemic has made travelers look for ways to make up for lost time and create new experiences and memories. 

“Consumers are putting value first, post pandemic. The squeeze on personal spending has shown that consumers will still prioritize getting away but are increasingly shopping around on metasearch platforms like Skyscanner. They are also employing simple travel hacks to ensure they get the most for their money, like being flexible in terms of dates and destination. The year looks set to be a year of new discoveries as emerging, pocket friendly destinations come to the fore.” 

Skyscanner commissioned its deep-dive research into consumer attitudes and behaviors, combined with proprietary search and booking insights, to reveal its travel predictions. Skyscanner’s report, Travel Trends 2023: The year of price-driven decisions analyzes survey data from 2,000 consumers in the US as well as extensive search and redirect data to provide unique insights into travel plans for 2023 and beyond.  

Key trends revealed:  

Travel remains a priority: Consumers today look to make better, more informed decisions about their discretionary spend, recent polling revealed: 46% of consumers are planning the same number of vacations in 2023 as 2022, and 41% are thinking of even going on more trips next year. Just 6% are planning to vacation less in 2023. The rising cost of living is still a concern, but 62% have decided to prioritize vacations next year over other big-ticket items.  

Shift in spending86% of US travelers are planning to spend the same if not more on travel abroad next year, while only 5% are planning to spend less. Travelers are increasingly demanding greater ticket transparency, as well as taking control of the value in their airfares, unbundling of price to build packaged airfares that suit their needs.   

Best value destinations for 2023: Skyscanner, which helps travelers compare pricing or choose travel based on budget, can also reveal the destinations that have seen the biggest price drops since pre-pandemic are: 

  1. Madeira, Portugal – 22% price drop   
  2. Sofia, Bulgaria – 18% price drop  
  3. Brussels, Belgium – 13% price drop 

Skyscanner’s 2023 hotlist: Travelers are increasingly on the hunt for less popular places that offer undiscovered experiences and unlock better value breaks. In fact, Skyscanner’s ‘Everywhere’ search is regularly in the top searches post pandemic. Check out some of the destinations that have seen the biggest increase in searches: 

Family hot list: 

  • Jacksonville, USA (570% increase in searches)  
  • Izmir, Turkey (168% increase in searches)  
  • Madeira, Portugal (123% increase in searches)  

Couples’ hotlist:  

  • Minneapolis, USA (409% increase in searches)  
  • Preveza, Greece (316% increase in searches)  
  • Santiago de Compostela, Spain (289% increase in searches)  

Solo traveling is no longer a niche; over one half of travelers (54%) are looking to escape solo next year. Divorcees (78%) ranked among the highest in their readiness to embark on a solo vacation in 2023 and look set to form a new trend of travelers who are ‘solo and self-focused’.  With an increasing number of friendship apps launched and platonic versions of dating apps growing in popularity, there is also the opportunity to hook up with new travel friends and companions. 

Sustainability; Sustainable travel continues to grow in consideration for travelers’ decision making: for more than 1 in 4 (24%) it’s even more important now, than prior to the pandemic. With price-led decision making and sustainable travel both top of mind, 11% are considering new, alternative destinations for their next trip.

Nature first; Wildlife spotting appears in the top 3 travel activities planned for vacations, suggesting the pandemic’s emphasis on getting outside for walks and connecting with the local environment is now transferring as a key component of travel plans.  Interacting with the environment and watching animals has mood-boosting properties.  Skyscanner recommends getting amongst green nature and experiencing the meditative effects of Shinrin-yoku, a new wellness trend that literally means ‘forest bathing’ in 2023. 

Making work work for you (and your wallet): 45% of Americans surveyed plan to work while on vacation next year (“bleisure travel”), a strategic move for which the top reason is ‘it means I get more time in destination’ (59%). Cross-referencing the long list of countries that now offer digital nomad visas with their cities’ cost of living index unearths a selection of savvy options for 2023. All cheaper than London’s cost of living index, Skyscanner’s favorites include: 

  1. Mexico City, Mexico – Skyscanner has also seen a 591% increase in searches 
  2. Zagreb, Croatia – Skyscanner has also seen a 344% increase in searches 
  3. Madrid, Spain      

Sneaky smartphone searches & social media’s influence; 2 out of 3 US travelers now use a mobile device to plan or book their next trip, with the most popular moment being during work hours or lunch break. Celebs are the number one source of travel inspiration in the US with Instagram being the most FOMO inducing – 52% of travelers stated they’re more likely to book a trip if they’ve seen it on the platform.  

  • So, for those wanting to get ahead of the Insta trend, Skyscanner can reveal their top spot for 2023 is Amman, Jordan (based on least amount of Instagram hashtags cross referenced x 195% increase in Skyscanner searches). 

Future travel; 2053 will mark 150 years of the Wright Brothers first airplane flight, a lot has changed since then and travelers are expecting significant developments to be mainstream when hitting that milestone in 30 years’ time.  

  • One in three people (34%) expect to vacation amongst the stars in their lifetime, climbing aboard space craft for Earth sight-seeing day trips to the edge of space and longer trips beyond 
  • Advances in supersonic technology could re-define short-haul travel and Skyscanner’s report reveals 32% of travelers believe it will be a mainstream flight option in the future 

Skyscanner’s new consumer research also reveals hot new trends around destinations and embracing “me-time”. From solo to supersonic travel, working while wandering the globe and social media’s influence on vacation selection, check out these and other findings in the full Travel Trends 2023: The year of price-driven decisions report.

Founded in 2003, Skyscanner is a leading travel marketplace dedicated to putting travelers first. Skyscanner helps millions of people in 52 countries and over 30 languages find the best travel options for flights, hotels and car rental every month. Skyscanner is available on desktop, mobile web and its highly rated app has over 110 million downloads. Working with 1200 travel partners, Skyscanner’s mission is to lead the global transformation to modern and sustainable travel.   

According to Skyscanner’s executives, the most popular search is for “anywhere. Our mission is to inspire.”

Visit Skyscanner.com

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Hospitality Industry Calls on Congress to Pass Save Hotel Jobs Act

Citing a loss of 3.1 million leisure and hospitality jobs lost during the coronavirus pandemic and with hotels expected to end 2021 down 500,000 jobs, the hotel industry is calling on to Congress to pass the Save Hotel Jobs Act © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Download Fact Sheet on 2021 State Job Loss Here

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) released new data showcasing the ongoing devastating impact of COVID-19 on hotel industry employment, including projected hotel job loss through the end of 2021. Without targeted relief from Congress, nationwide, hotels are expected to end 2021 down 500,000 jobs. Hotels are the only major hospitality and leisure segment yet to receive direct aid.

The top five states projected to end 2021 down the highest number of jobs include:

  1. California: 67,169 jobs lost
  2. Florida: 39,560 jobs lost
  3. New York: 38,028 jobs lost
  4. Nevada: 22,282 jobs lost
  5. Hawaii: 20,029 jobs lost

The release of this data follows the introduction of the Save Hotel Jobs Act, legislation to provide targeted federal relief to the ailing hotel industry workforce including up to three months of full payroll support. AHLA and UNITE HERE, the largest hospitality workers union in North America, joined forces last week to call on Congress to pass the Save Hotel Jobs Act. The bill, introduced by U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and U.S. Representative Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), provides a lifeline to hotel workers, providing the assistance they need to survive until travel returns to pre-pandemic levels.

Unfortunately, the road to recovery for the hotel industry is long, the AHLA stated. The recent uptick in leisure travel for spring and summer is encouraging for hotels, however, business travel—the largest source of hotel revenue—is down 85% and is not expected to begin its slow return until the second half of this year. Full recovery is not expected until 2024. 

“While many other hard-hit industries have received targeted federal relief, the hotel industry has not. The Save Hotel Jobs Act will provide critical support to hotels and their workers during this crucial period,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA. “We need Congress to pass the Save Hotel Jobs Act to help hotels retain and rehire employees until travel demand, especially business travel, begins to come back.”

No industry has been more affected by the pandemic than hospitality, the AHLA stated. Leisure and hospitality has lost 3.1 million jobs during the pandemic that have yet to return, representing more than a third of all unemployed persons in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even more stark, the unemployment rate in the accommodation sector specifically remains 330% higher than the rest of the economy.

Empty or permanently closed hotels have also had a ripple effect on communities throughout the country, hurting a wide range of businesses that rely on the presence of hotel guests, such as restaurants and retail, hotel supply companies and construction. For every 10 people directly employed on a hotel property, hotels support an additional 26 jobs in the community, from restaurants and retail to hotel supply companies and construction, according to a study by Oxford Economics. With hotels expected to end 2021 down 500,000 jobs, based on the pre-pandemic ratio, an additional 1.3 million hotel-supported jobs are in jeopardy this year without additional support from Congress.

This crisis has been especially devastating in urban areas, hurting minority communities, the AHLA stated. Urban hotels, which are more reliant on business and group travel and more likely to host larger events, ended January down 66% in room revenue compared to last year. According to recent reports, New York City has seen one-third of its hotel rooms—more than 42,000—wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly 200 hotels closing permanently in the city.

Read more about the Save Hotel Jobs Act here.

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) is the main national association representing all segments of the U.S. lodging industry. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., AHLA focuses on strategic advocacy, communications support and workforce development programs to move the industry forward. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospitality industry was the first industry impacted, and it will be among the last to recover. That is why AHLA is committed to promoting safe travel while also creating a standardized safety experience nationwide through the Safe Stay initiative. With an enhanced set of health and safety protocols designed to provide a safe and clean environment for all hotel guests and employees, hotels across America are ready to welcome back travelers when they are ready to travel.

Learn more at www.ahla.com.  

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Travel Industry Sees Passage of Biden’s American Rescue Plan as Critical

The U.S. Travel Association and American Hotel and Lodging Association joined the growing list of business leaders and economists who see President Biden’s American Rescue Plan as critical to addressing the economic crisis caused by the pandemic (c) Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The U.S. Travel Association and American Hotel and Lodging Association joined the growing list of business leaders and economists who see President Biden’s American Rescue Plan as critical to addressing the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.
 
The travel industry supports 15.8 million or nearly 1 in 10 American jobs. In a report, the U.S. Travel Association noted in a report that COVID-19 has devastated the travel industry more than any other sector of the economy. In order to get Americans back to work and safely resume travel, the U.S. Travel Association President and CEO said that there has to be immediate action to pass the American Rescue Act.
 
Robert Dow, U.S. Travel Association President and CEO praised the American Rescue Plan in a speech yesterday, saying “We are encouraged by the measures to provide additional grants and loans to small businesses in the hardest-hit industries, which include travel. The Paycheck Protection Program is set to expire in March, but the economic hardships of the pandemic will persist, so it is important that struggling businesses continue to receive aid to maintain operations and keep workers on payrolls.”
 
Dow added “there are important components contained in President Biden’s American Rescue Plan to help us rebuild, such as providing grants for the hardest hit industries, including travel. Also included in the President’s proposal is additional funding for vaccine distribution which we know is vital to helping travel businesses more robustly reopen.”
 
And, the market data analyst, STR, recently said that the American Rescue Plan’s proposal for widespread vaccinations would help get the industry back on track “these opening months of the year are going to resemble some of the :slowest of 2020, but we are optimistic that hotel demand will improve as vaccine distribution becomes more widespread and travel confidence grows,” said Amanda Hite, president of STR. “While the early indicators should be visible in Q2, we expect Q3 to be the point where leisure travel shifts into high gear and corporate and group business show more progressive improvement. That will feed into a 2022 that shows a higher level of recovery.”

Meanwhile, the American Hotel & Lodging Association released AHLA’s State of the Hotel Industry 2021” outlining the forecasted state of the hotel industry in 2021 and into the immediate future. The report examines the high-level economics of the hotel industry’s recovery, the specific impact on and eventual return of business travel, and consumer travel sentiments. 

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Hospitality Industry Links Travel Demand for 2021 with COVID Vaccine Distribution

56% Expect to Travel for Leisure; Business Travel Not Expected to Return Until 2024; Consumer Comfort with Travel Linked to Vaccine Distribution

The hospitality industry sees the outlook for travel demand as linked to the availability of COVID vaccination (c) Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

WASHINGTON – The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) released “AHLA’s State of the Hotel Industry 2021” outlining the forecasted state of the hotel industry in 2021 and into the immediate future. The bottom line is that the industry’s recovery is linked to the availability of COVID vaccinations.

The pandemic has been devastating to the hospitality industry workforce, which is down nearly 4 million jobs compared to the same time in 2019. While some 200,000 jobs are expected to be filled this year, overall, the accommodations sector faces an 18.9% unemployment rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, half of U.S. hotel rooms are projected to remain empty in 2021.

Business travel, which comprises the largest source of hotel revenue, remains nearly nonexistent, but it is expected to begin a slow return in the second half of 2021. Among frequent business travelers who are currently employed, 29% expect to attend their first business conference in the first half of 2021, 36% in the second half of the year and 20% more than a year from now. Business travel is not expected to return to 2019 levels until at least 2023 or 2024.  

Leisure travel is expected to return first, with consumers optimistic about national distribution of a vaccine and with that an ability to travel again in 2021. The report found that heading into 2021, consumers are optimistic about travel, with 56% of Americans saying they are likely to travel for leisure or vacation in 2021. While 34% of adults are already comfortable staying in a hotel, 48% say their comfort is tied to vaccination in some way. 

The top findings from this report include:

  1. Hotels will add 200,000 direct hotel operations jobs in 2021 but will remain nearly 500,000 jobs below the industry’s pre-pandemic employment level of 2.3 million employees. 
  2. Half of U.S. hotel rooms are projected to remain empty.
  3. Business travel is forecasted to be down 85% compared to 2019 through April 2021, and then only begin ticking up slightly. 
  4. 56% of consumers say they expect to travel for leisure, roughly the same amount as in an average year.  
  5. Nearly half of consumers see vaccine distribution as key to travel.
  6. When selecting a hotel, enhanced cleaning and hygiene practices rank as guests’ number two priority, behind price. 

“COVID-19 has wiped out 10 years of hotel job growth. Yet the hallmark of hospitality is endless optimism, and I am confident in the future of our industry,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA.

“Despite the challenges facing the hotel industry, we are resilient. Hotels across the country are focused on creating an environment ready for guests when travel begins to return. AHLA is eager to work with the new Administration and Congress on policies that will ultimately help bring back travel, from helping small business hoteliers keep their doors open to ramping up vaccine distribution and testing. Together, we can bring back jobs and reignite a continued investment in the communities we serve,” said Rogers.

The resurgence of COVID-19, the emergence of new strains, and a slow vaccine rollout have added to the challenges the hotel industry faces this year. With travel demand continuing to lag normal levels, national and state projections for 2021 show a slow rebound for the industry and then accelerating in 2022. 

The hotel industry experienced the most devastating year on record in 2020, resulting in historically low occupancy, massive job loss, and hotel closures across the country. Hotels were one of the first industries affected by the pandemic after travel was forced to a virtual halt in early 2020, and it will be one of the last to recover. The impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry so far has been nine times that of 9/11.

Download the full report here.

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GreatEscape Adventures Uses Foundation to Facilitate Great Escape from Poverty Caused by Pandemic

Vietnam countryside on the 2019 Global Scavenger Hunt.  The around-the-world mystery tour awakens travelers  to culture, heritage and needs of people around the world and helps support projects to alleviate poverty and need. The Great Escape Foundation this year is focusing its philanthropy on addressing the hunger and displacement needs of millions of pandemic affected families. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Global Scavenger Hunt, which has been organized by William and Pamela Chalmers of GreatEscape Adventures for over 15 years, was put on hold this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Hopefully the Chalmers will bring it back as soon as possible. It was a trip-of-a-lifetime for me when I took part in the 15th annual around-the-world mystery tour in 2019. The trips are designed to instill an understanding of similarities and differences among cultures and people around the world, but also are designed to support projects through their GreatEscape Foundation.

Because of the pandemic, GreatEscape Foundation 2021 focus “is pivoting temporarily from our usual goals of building schools and assisting families with interest free micro-loans. Our plea this year is different,” they write.

“Instead, we find ourselves reflecting that while we have been overwhelmed with concerns about our own very personal existential anxieties, that the plight of world’s poorest has been forgotten. Our world has gotten smaller. Sadly, the erosion of decades of progress made against the beachhead of poverty has been significant. Growing legions of the world’s poorest are falling behind again and suffering awfully, in part because we have been so preoccupied in helping ourselves. But we cannot abandon helping others.

“Extraordinary times require extraordinary actions. This year, 100% of the funds raised will be immediately directed to address the hunger and displacement needs of millions of pandemic affected families.”

Chalmers created the Global Scavenger Hunt not just to promote the benefits of international travel to cultivate Global Citizens, and all the benefits of travel – from providing economic foundation to sustain places of history, heritage and culture that might otherwise be abandoned, provide jobs and improve the living standards for communities and societies, and promote an exchange of understanding and ideas just as Marco Polo did centuries ago, where we are also encouraged to engage in voluntourism projects along the way – but serves to support The Global Scavenger Hunt’s cause-related, charitable purposes. The annual event raises funds for GreatEscape Foundation’s twin goals: building co-ed elementary schools in low & middle income nations, and distributing interest-free no-fee micro-loans to budding global entrepreneurs (mostly mothers).

“Both our methods of helping others help themselves are designed to facilitate their great escape from the cycle of poverty—one person at a time! Happily, we have improved the lives of thousands: building a dozen schools, a mid-wife training facility, and funding thousands of mothers wanting to make a better life for their families,” Chalmers writes.

Make donations online at GlobalScavengerHunt.com/greatescape-foundation.

GreatEscape Adventures, 310-281-7809, GlobalScavengerHunt.com.  

See: Global Scavenger Hunt: In the Scramble to Be Crowned ‘World’s Best Travelers’

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Hotel Industry Renews Call for Congress to Pass Another COVID Relief Bill Amid Dismal Holiday Travel Forecast

The hotel industry was the first impacted by the pandemic and will be one of the last to recover and is appealing to Congress for COVID-19 relief. The industry is assuring travelers “for those who are considering traveling for the holidays, hotels will be ready to welcome you. Through our Safe Stay initiative, hotels have enhanced our already rigorous cleaning protocols to be more transparent and give travelers even more peace of mind.” (c) Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnow.com

WASHINGTON (November 12, 2020) – A new national survey commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) shows that many Americans are not expected to travel this holiday seasons. Results show that 72% of Americans are unlikely to travel for Thanksgiving and 69% are unlikely to travel for Christmas, compounding the challenges for the hotel industry during this public health crisis.

Business travel has been even more impacted. Only 8% of Americans say they have taken an overnight business trip since March, and just 19% of respondents who are currently employed—or 8% of all adults—expect to travel for business within the next six months. Sixty-two percent (62%) of employed Americans have no plans to stay in a hotel for business.

The survey of 2,200 adults was conducted November 2-4, 2020 by Morning Consult on behalf of AHLA. Key findings of the survey include the following:

  • Only 3 in 10 (32%) respondents have taken an overnight vacation or leisure trip since March
  • 21% of Americans say they are likely to travel for Thanksgiving, 24% are likely to travel for Christmas
  • Looking ahead to next year, 24% are likely to travel for spring break 
  • 44% say their next hotel stay for vacation or leisure travel will be a year or more from now or they have no plans to stay in a hote

“This holiday season will be an especially difficult time for all Americans, and our industry is no exception” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association. “Fewer people will be traveling, and business travel remains nearly non-existent. That’s why it’s so important for Congress to pass a relief bill now. Millions of Americans are out of work, and thousands of small businesses are struggling to keep their doors open. We cannot afford to wait until the next Congress is sworn in for relief. They need help now.”

“For those who are considering traveling for the holidays, hotels will be ready to welcome you. Through our Safe Stay initiative, hotels have enhanced our already rigorous cleaning protocols to be more transparent and give travelers even more peace of mind,” said Rogers.

The hotel industry was the first impacted by the pandemic and will be one of the last to recover. Hotel occupancy rates partially rebounded from record lows in April, but they have continued to decline since Labor Day. According to STR, nationwide hotel occupancy was 44.4% for the week ending October 31, compared to 62.6% the same week last year. Occupancy in urban markets is just 35.6%, down from 71.8% one year ago.

As a result of the significant drop in travel, more than half of hotels report they have less than half of their typical, pre-crisis staff working full time currently. Without further governmental assistance, 74% of hotels said they would be forced into further layoffs. Business and group travel are not expected to reach 2019 peak demand levels again until 2023. As a result of the sharp drop in travel demand from COVID-19, state and local tax revenue from hotel operations is estimated to drop by $16.8 billion in 2020. 

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Travel Experts to Discuss Lessons from COVID-19 on Tourism in a Changing Climate

Jokulsarlon Glacier, Iceland. The travel and tourism industry, which sustains environments, cultures and economies in communities around the world, faces twin crises of climate change and COVID-19. The Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) is hosting a free 2020 World Tourism Day Webinar on Tuesday, September 29 © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.

Join the Center for Responsible Travel (CREST) for a 2020 World Tourism Day Webinar entitled Lessons from COVID-19 for Tourism in a Changing Climate, Tuesday, September 29, 11:00 am–12:30 pm EST

Registration for this free event is now open, and space is limited.

CREST’s annual meta-analysis, The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends & Statistics, will share key studies on COVID-19 and climate change and the lessons that may be applied from the former to meet the challenges of the latter. CREST’s World Tourism Day Webinar will share the report’s key findings and will bring together experts to discuss consumer, business, and destination trends in the context of recovery. 

Distinguished speakers will explore the unprecedented opportunity to mitigate two existential threats, climate change and COVID-19, with one coordinated approach, truly making the world a safer, more equitable, and more resilient place for all.

Panelists will include:

The latest report, The Case for Responsible Travel: Trends & Statistics 2020, a special edition on lessons from COVID-19 for tourism in a changing climate, comes at an unprecedented time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 has highlighted the immense need and value of tourism, while fundamentally changing the way destinations, businesses, and travelers will plan, manage, and experience tourism. At the same time, climate change remains an existential threat that has real consequences for destinations and communities everywhere.

The report includes a special focus on the two major crises facing our world today: climate change and COVID-19. Sharing cutting-edge research and examples, the report describes how travelers, tourism businesses, and destinations are implementing workable, sustainable solutions to support our planet and its people. The report also provides an overview of what consumers, businesses, and destinations are experiencing during COVID-19 and offers sustainable solutions that can help the tourism industry on a road to responsible recovery.

“Crisis often breeds innovation, and destination communities and businesses must now take the time to reconsider the path forward,” said Gregory Miller, Executive Director of CREST. “As we look to the future of tourism, the same rigor and dedication that is needed to adapt to the pandemic must also be applied to neutralize the threat of climate change.”

Trends & Statistics 2020 updates CREST’s previous industry studies, released every year since 2013. This year’s report was prepared in collaboration with more than 30 leading organizations, researchers, and institutions, including the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

The full report is available at responsibletravel.org.

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Hotel Industry on Brink of Collapse Releases Roadmap to Recovery

Wentworth By the Sea, a grand historic resort on New Castle island, off Portsmouth, NH (c) Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

WASHINGTON D.C. – With new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showing staggering job loss to the hospitality and leisure industry, the American Hotel & Lodging Association today released a “Roadmap to Recovery,” calling on Congress to prioritize relief for hotel workers and small businesses in the next stimulus package. The April Jobs Report showed the hospitality and leisure industry was the hardest hit, losing 7.7 million jobs—nearly as many jobs as the next four sectors combined. (Click here to read AHLA’s letter to Congress.)

AHLA is urging Congress to provide immediate assistance in these four areas:

  • Help hotels retain and rehire employees by extending the Paycheck Protection Program, offering employees direct tuition assistance or tax credits, and expanding the Employee Retention Credit

  • Protect employees and guests through tax credits for cleaning equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE)

  • Keep hotel doors open by providing relief for hotel commercial mortgages and increasing the size and flexibility of PPP loans

  • Incentivize Americans to travel again when it’s safe with a new, temporary travel tax credit and restoring the entertainment business expense deduction

“The hospitality industry is in a fight for survival,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA. “We are grateful to the leadership of both parties during one of the most difficult health and economic challenges we have faced. We are urging Congress to do even more to help the hotel industry so that our small business hotel operators can keep the lights on and retain and rehire employees.”

COVID-19 continues to devastate the hotel industry: 2020 is projected to be the worst year on record for hotel occupancy, and experts estimate it will be at least 2022 before hotels return to their 2019 occupancy and revenue levels. So far, the impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry has been nine times worse than September 11. In a recent survey of AHLA members, more than 8 in 10 hotel employees said they have had to lay off or furlough workers. Only 37 percent have been able to rehire any staff through economic relief measures such as PPP.

With a presence in every congressional district in America, hotels are central to getting our economy back on track and supporting millions of jobs. Prior to the pandemic, hotels were proud to support one in 25 American jobs—8.3 million in total—and contribute $660 billion to U.S. GDP. A representative hotel with 100 occupied rooms per night supports nearly 250 jobs in the community and generates $18.4 million in guest spending at neighborhood shops and restaurants. Hotels also generate $186 billion in local, state, and federal taxes each year.

“While the hotel industry was one of the first affected by the pandemic, we have collectively stepped up to serve our communities during this public health crisis. We need Congress to continue to prioritize the industries and employees most affected by the crisis, so we can retain and rehire the people who power our industry, our communities and our economy,” concluded Rogers.

Click here to download the hotel industry’s Road Map to Recovery one-pager.

Click here to read AHLA’s letter to Congress.

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Southampton Inn on Long Island’s East End Remains Open to Provide Needed Respite

Southampton Inn Bedroom, Cooper’s Beach, Benday Sophia @Ceravolo, 

Against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic and the declaration of a national emergency, the Southampton Inn on the East end of Long Island, remains open to care for guests and the wider community. While larger gatherings are currently not possible, people still need somewhere safe to stay, whether construction workers supporting emergency infrastructure projects or families trying to visit loved ones. Housekeeping protocols at the Inn meet the guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  
 
The Southampton Inn wants to first reassure guests that they can book with confidence. They understand that people are concerned about the evolving situation and, specifically, scheduled overnight stays and future travel plans. To accommodate guests during this time of uncertainty, the Inn will cancel any reservations through April 15, 2020 or will credit your reservations to any available date through March 31, 2021. They are also taking the following steps to accommodate guests:  

The Inn is offering a room rate of $149/night (plus taxes and fees) for their available rooms. Sixteen of the rooms are pet-friendly.

Claude’s Restaurant is offering take-out breakfast options daily between 7:00am and 10:00am. The restaurant is currently closed for dinner and Sunday brunch through March 31, 2020, and management is monitoring the evolving guidelines.

Guests are welcome to reserve an extended stay in June, July or August. Prices range from $11,000 – $15,000 per month (subject to change and availability).

Despite the underlying tensions surrounding the outbreak, spring hasarrived and a welcome breath of fresh air and relaxation awaits at the Southampton Inn. Located in the heart of Long Island’s historic Southampton Village, the Inn is just one mile from gorgeous nationally recognized ocean beaches, hiking and cycling trails.
 
New this 2020, Claude’s Gallery inaugural exhibition features artwork by Ceravolo & Candice CMC, Charles Ford, Robin Morris and Nickol Renae. Guests can stop by for a tour or call for information about the artists.  A well-stocked library provides an ideal place to relax with a book or board game.
 
Looking ahead, the Southampton Inn currently has a number of events planned starting in May 2020 including:
 
May 1 – 3      – 2020 May Day Celebration
May 8 – 10   – Mother’s Day Weekend getaway and brunch
May 9              – The USA Women’s Half Marathon in Southampton Village (pre-race dinner)
May 14-17    – What’s New, Southampton Village? (featuring exciting and diverse promotions and events that focus on family fun, history, the arts and recreation – all designed to showcase the Village’s many offerings during one of the most beautiful times of the year).
May 24            – Memorial Day Weekend Summer Kickoff Barbecue
June 12 -14  – Croquet and Rosé starts June 12-14 and continues every Sunday through the summer: $50/couple includes bottle of selected rosé, croquet on the Inn’s lawn and live music.

The Southampton Inn is classic, unassuming and utterly charming. The Inn, on five acres, offers the personal attention of a bed & breakfast with the services of a hotel. The 90 guest rooms, all with slightly different decor, offer individual temperature control, sparkling tiled bathrooms, refrigerators, and complimentary Wi-Fi. The grounds consist of several acres of manicured lawns and gardens, with amenities that everyone can enjoy: 50-foot heated outdoor pool, All-weather tennis court, croquet and volleyball, Game Room for all ages, and Claude’s Restaurant.

When things return to normal, The Inn and Claude’s Restaurant are also popular, established settings for corporate retreats, meetings, reunions, destination weddings and other gatherings, combining the natural beauty of the East End of Long Island with seasonal amenities, all in one convenient location.

Southampton Inn & Claude’s Restaurant, 91 Hill Street, Southampton, NY 11968, 631-283-6500, [email protected], https://southamptoninn.com/

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